Despite Blake Treinen, the Dodgers have continued pursuing top bullpen arms, including four-time All-Star Dellin Betances and two-time All-Star Josh Hader.
Adding Betances makes sense. He’s a free agent who is only expected to make around $10 million on a one-year deal, just like Treinen. This sort of low-risk, high-reward move for a historically-elite pitcher is the sort of move that the Dodgers front office is likely to make, especially after doing the same with Treinen, the 2018 All-Star, who is less proven than Betances.
Hader’s situation is far different than that of either of the aforementioned righties and because of this, the Dodgers should avoid trading for him.
Hader, a back-to-back All-Star, has seen a meteoric rise to success over the last two seasons. In 2018 and 2019, Hader struck out more than 15.5 hitters per nine innings while allowing an ERA below 2.65 in both seasons. He will turn 26 at the beginning of the 2020 season, which will be just his fourth season in the MLB.
More from Dodgers Way
- Dodgers Rumors: Yasiel Puig drawing interest from Orioles, among others
- Dodgers: 3 franchise greats who should be in the Hall of Fame
- Dodgers Briefing: 2021 schedule, Bellinger’s mask advice, waiting on Kenley
- Dodgers: 3 options to keep the closer spot warm if Kenley Jansen isn’t ready
- Dodgers: Why Edwin Rios could become a hero in 2020
His youth and utter dominance, as well as his being left-handed, separates him not only from Betances and Treinen, but really from almost every other reliever in the game today, besides maybe the Yankees’ dynamic lefty-duo of Aroldis Chapman and Zach Britton.
This sort of player is not usually available, especially when he is likely to cost only $4 million in 2020. Despite his unique place at the top of the reliever pinnacle, the Dodgers should not trade for him.
For starters, adding Hader would cost a top prospect according to MLBTR. Based on his accolades, young age, and team-friendly contract, the Milwaukee Brewers certainly are justified in asking for a generous return for their southpaw closer. This does not mean that the Dodgers should pay this price.
The Dodgers need to hold onto their prospects to use for acquiring a middle of the order power bat like Francisco Lindor, Mookie Betts, or Kris Bryant. Even if the availability of Betts and Lindor is up in the air, dealing prospects for Hader means that the Dodgers certainly could not afford the steep prospect cost that adding a hitter would certainly require. The Dodgers still could trade for Whit Merrifield as well, who would likely cost a similar amount to Hader in terms of prospects.
Certainly, Hader would be a luxury for the Dodgers, giving them a lefty-righty balance that is currently lacking in the bullpen. Splits are not the most important function of a bullpen that already includes three nasty power pitchers in Treinen, Joe Kelly, and Kenley Jansen (whose ‘power’ is reasonably up in the air heading into 2020) though, especially if LA’s front office could add Betances.
Adding Betances for a one-year deal is cheaper than adding a hitter of comparable value, such as Nicholas Castellanos or Marcell Ozuna. Plus, the AAV of one of their contracts would be similar to that of Bryant, who is undoubtedly a better hitter and already has connections to California.
Ultimately, until Andrew Friedman and the front office can completely rule out a trade for Bryant, Merrifield, or any other elite hitter, they should hold onto the prospects that would be involved in a Hader trade.